Robin Hutton Talks About Her Book "Sgt Reckless: America's War Horse"

Col Mary Reinwald, USMC(Ret), editor of Leatherneck Magazine, interviews author Robin Hutton about her book "Sgt Reckless: America's War Horse" at the Marine Corps Association's offices in Quantico, Va., August 2014.

Buy the book online.

Eight years of research and now here it is—Robin Hutton’s definitive story of Reckless, the legendary Marine war horse who earned her battle stripes and place in Marine Corps history during the Korean War.

Hutton is a self-proclaimed horse enthusiast. With a career in the movie industry, she happened to hear the legend of Reckless in August 2006 and immediately was in awe. How could the dedication and commitment of this small horse with such a huge heart and giant intellect be known to so few? The more she learned, the more devoted she became not only to telling the heroism of Reckless, but commemorating Reckless through monuments, a book and a screenplay.

Reckless, a chestnut-colored Mongolian mare with a white blaze on her face and three white stocking feet, was purchased from her Korean owner at a racetrack in Seoul in October 1952 by Lieutenant Eric Pedersen. Pedersen was the platoon leader of the Recoilless Rifle Platoon, Antitank Company, Fifth Marine Regiment.

By 1952, the war was one of trench lines and bunkers on the high ground with massed enemy assaults focused on annihilating the NATO forces. Resupply was critical, but manpower killing. The novel idea of adding horsepower to the resupply equation was initially met with some skepticism, but Reckless won over all skeptics with her fearless commitment to carrying 75 mm recoilless rifle ammunition up and down the hills to forward positions.

Not limited to ammunition resupply duties, Reckless carried heavy spools of communication wire and anything else needed by her Marines: grenades, small-arms ammunition, food, water, sleeping bags and even wounded leathernecks.

In her book, Hutton describes the background of Reckless and her Korean owner and devotes several chapters to the Marines in the Korean War and how Reckless was trained and helped in resupply, even under intense enemy shelling. Although wounded twice in one day, she continued to take supplies to besieged Marines, finding the ammunition dump in the rear, getting loaded and delivering the ammunition to her platoon.

Hutton continues with the tale of Reckless’ adventures during the horse’s trip to America and life at her new home, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Hutton’s detailed interviews with Marines also yielded some of Reckless’ lighter moments. She was known as a voracious eater and drinker. Nothing was safe—bacon, eggs, mashed potatoes, C-rations, peanut butter as well as cookies and cakes from home. She would drink anything Marines would drink—soda, beer and even a dram or two of whiskey.

“Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse” includes 136 photographs, with 102 of Reckless and her Marines, many of which have never before been published. Stitched inside as a collector’s bonus are four easily removed trading cards with rare photographs of Reckless. On the backs of the cards are short stories, statistics and facts about Reckless.

Currently, Hutton is president of Angels Without Wings Inc., a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization that raised funds for the sculpture of Reckless installed at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va., in July 2013. Funds for a second monument, planned for Camp Pendleton, are being raised, and a monument in South Korea is being researched.

“Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse,” by Robin Hutton, provides insights into what many know about Marines—animals and children win the hardest of warrior hearts. In this case, you will easily see how Reckless earned her position on a high pedestal. The entire family will enjoy the story of Reckless. It comes with the highest recommendation.

Col Walt Ford, USMC (Ret)

Editor’s note: See the October 2013 Leatherneck article, “Forgotten No More: Remembered Forever,” by Nancy Lee White Hoffman to learn more about Reckless and her memorial at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va.

Author’s bio: Col Ford is a former editor of Leatherneck who served the “Magazine of the Marines” for almost 15 years after serving in the Corps for 30 years.

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